Going green is no longer a fad or a trend — with climate change accelerating, it is quickly becoming a societal imperative. If you’re concerned about your carbon footprint, resolve in 2019 to reduce, reuse, recycle and generally become a bit greener.
Here are five tips and tricks to help you cut back on your carbon footprint for the coming year.
1. Prioritize Energy Efficiency
Power production accounts for more than 1700 million metric tons of CO2 emissions every year, primarily because traditional power plants burn coal or natural gas to generate the electricity that flows into your home. You can take several small steps to make your home more energy efficient and lower your carbon footprint, like:
- Upgrading Your Appliances: Older appliances tend to be energy vampires. Look for Energy Star rated appliances when you go shopping for new ones, and make sure you recycle the old ones.
- Changing Your Lightbulbs: Incandescent lightbulbs generate more heat than they do light. Upgrade to CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs) or LED bulbs that use less energy and last infinitely longer.
- Unplugging or Shutting Off Electronics: Things like televisions, computers and other electronics continue to pull power even when they’re off. Unplug these energy ghosts when you’re not using them, or invest in smart power strips you can shut off remotely.
- Switching to Green Providers and Products: In many areas, you can switch to a green energy provider without having to install solar panels or wind turbines on your property. Look into your local green energy companies to see what your options are.
These are just a few of the steps you can take to reduce your annual energy consumption and your carbon footprint. As a bonus, many of these will also reduce your monthly power bill!
2. Shop Local
Ordering from Amazon or other online retailers might be convenient, but transporting your package comes with a huge carbon footprint.
Try to shop local as much as possible. Buy your groceries from local farms — not only are you getting fresher products, but their carbon footprint is also smaller because they don’t have to travel far. If you’re ordering online, choose products that use minimal packaging or recyclable packaging. Sites like Amazon offer the option for “Frustration-Free Packaging” which usually means no plastic or non-recyclable materials are included in the packaging.
3. Ditch the Car
This might not be an option if you live out in the middle of nowhere, but if you live in an urban or suburban area, take steps to use your car as little as possible. Utilize public transportation — especially since many cities are switching their buses to a biodiesel model to reduce carbon emissions. Walk, take a bicycle or even invest in an electric scooter or skateboard to run errands or get you to and from work.
You might want to keep your car around for some errands, though — no one wants to try to haul home a load of groceries on a bicycle or skateboard — but you don’t need to use it for everything.
4. Conserve Water
While the majority of our planet is covered in water, only three percent of it is drinkable — and two percent of that is frozen in the planet’s ice caps. Conserving water is another thing that can help you reduce your carbon footprint.
You don’t have to sacrifice the water pressure in your shower to save water, though. A low-flow showerhead with an aerator uses half as much water while still providing amazing water pressure. Replace your old fixtures with low-flow alternatives, and you won’t even notice the difference until you look at the water bill!
5. Purchase Offsets
What if there are some changes you can’t make? Maybe you fly a lot for work and can’t make enough changes at home to offset those carbon expenditures? Perhaps you’ve got a classic car you love and can’t see yourself trading in for a low-emissions hybrid or electric vehicle? Whatever the case, you do still have an option to reduce your carbon footprint — buying a carbon offset.
Carbon offsets can be one-time purchases or recurring charges that offset your carbon footprint by investing in green energy projects. It’s a type of crowd-sourced funding for projects that can’t obtain financing otherwise. Purchasing a carbon offset can help reduce your carbon footprint and do something good for the planet at the same time.
With 2018 coming to a close, it’s time to choose a new year’s resolution. Why not resolve to generate fewer carbon emissions in the coming year?
Photo provided by the author.